Fix Up Old Furniture and Flea Market Finds Using These Natural Home Remedies

eHow Home Blog


Today we’re excited to share a couple of tricks we’ve picked up for conditioning and reviving dinged-up wooden household furniture or flea-market finds filled with potential.


Using common and natural household products such as walnuts, vinegar and oil, you can literally rub away the small scratches and scrapes your furniture may have picked up over the years (let’s face it — life happens!), without spending a fortune to refinish the pieces.

To show you how well these remedies work, we used them on the antique sewing machine Tim’s mother grew up with and gave to us. It’s an amazing piece of history but had lots of visible surface wear, scratches along the edges and some staining.


Note: These home remedies work best to revive wood surfaces that have small scratches and surface wear from age. Deep dents, ridges and stains are harder to mask and may require professional restoration. Always test the surface in a small, unnoticeable area to ensure the results match your expectations.

For an all-over wood reconditioning and glowing finish, a mixture of oil and vinegar will do the trick. Simply mix 3 parts oil with 1 part vinegar. For example, our solution consisted of ¾ cup vegetable oil combined with ¼ cup apple cider vinegar.


Almost any combination of household oils and vinegars will work in the same way, so use what you have on hand (olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, coconut oil, white vinegar, red wine vinegar). For smaller or larger projects the measurements can be adjusted, as long as they stay within the 3 parts to 1 part ratio.


Start out by giving the piece of furniture a good dusting, and wipe it down. Dip a clean, dry cloth into the vinegar/oil solution, and gently wipe along the wood surface to watch the years of damage disappear.



You’ll be left with a beautifully conditioned piece of furniture that’s giving off a healthy sheen. The solution will soak in and dry; there is no need to wipe or touch it further.


The photo illustrates how this method works to blur away surface scratches, minor staining and wear, though tougher stains like that deep water ring still remain visible.

Here’s another set of detailed before-and-after shots to show how much of an impact this simple solution can make.


For the next trick, we’ll bring walnuts into the mix!


For smaller scratches along furniture edges and tough-to-reach spots, rub the meat of a walnut directly over the mark and watch it disappear.


The oil of the walnut conditions the wood and blurs away the scratch.


If you’re like us and have leftover solution or walnuts, you might find yourself searching around the house for all the other wooden pieces that could use a little love. Outside of wood furniture, these same remedies will work to revive most other wooden items, such as kitchen bowls, spoons, butcher blocks, wooden toys and tools — even the smaller surface wear along your wooden floors or stairs.

Looking for more home tips and tricks? Learn how to beautifully restore and season cast iron cookware, and you won’t believe this simple trick for polishing silver with baking soda and tin foil!

Mary & Tim

More from Tim and Mary


5 No-Fail Steps to Restoring and Seasoning Rusty Cast Iron Skillets

An Outdated Garage Sale Dresser Gets a Shabby Chic Makeover

How to Turn Flooring into Modern Placemats

Turn Empty Spice Tins into Mini Kitchen Organizers

Keep up with Mary and Tim’s adventures in DIY, home and gardening on their collaborative lifestyle blog, 17Apart. Find them on Instagram (@17Apart) and page through delicious recipes on Tim’s food blog, E.A.T.

Photo credits: Mary & Tim Vidra

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